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Adipokines as emerging mediators of immune response and inflammation

Abstract

The scientific interest in the biology of white adipose tissue (WAT) has increased since the discovery of leptin in 1994. The description of the product of the gene obese (ob) demonstrated the role of adipose tissue in the physiopathology of obesity-related diseases, and helped to increase the identification of numerous other adipokines, many of a pro-inflammatory nature. It has become increasingly evident that WAT-derived adipokines can be considered as a hub between obesity-related exogenous factors, such as nutrition and lifestyle, and the molecular events that lead to metabolic syndrome, inflammatory and/or autoimmune conditions, and rheumatic diseases. In this Review, we will discuss the progress in adipokine research, focusing particular attention to the roles of leptin, adiponectin, resistin, visfatin, and other recently identified adipokines in inflammatory, autoimmune and rheumatic diseases.

Key Points

  • Adipokines are soluble factors produced prevalently by white adipose tissue that have emerged as modulators of inflammation and the immune response

  • Although definitive conclusions are awaited, recent evidence points to involvement of adipokines in relevant degenerative diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis

  • Although many functions of these molecules remain to be investigated, adipokines stand at the interface between metabolism and immunity in modulating not only inflammation, but also immune and autoimmune reactivity

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Figure 1: The multiple functions of white adipose tissue include the synthesis and secretion of adipokines, and the uptake, storage and synthesis of lipids.
Figure 2: A schematic representation of the pleiotropic nature of leptin.
Figure 3: Leptin as a regulator of bone and cartilage homestasis.

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Acknowledgements

Part of the research described in this Review was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Health through the Fondo de Investigación Sanitaria, Instituto de Salud Carlos III (contracts PI05/0525, PI030115, PI050419, PI060919 and G03/152), by the Spanish Ministry of Education & Science (BFU 2005) and/or by the Xunta de Galicia. The work of O Gualillo and F Lago is funded by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III and the Xunta de Galicia (SERGAS) through a research staff stabilization contract. The authors would like to thank R Gomez Bahamonde for his help with drawing tables and figures. Désirée Lie, University of California, Irvine, CA, is the author of and is solely responsible for the content of the learning objectives, questions and answers of the Medscape-accredited continuing medical education activity associated with this article.

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Correspondence to Oreste Gualillo.

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Lago, F., Dieguez, C., Gómez-Reino, J. et al. Adipokines as emerging mediators of immune response and inflammation. Nat Rev Rheumatol 3, 716–724 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/ncprheum0674

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